One of the common questions people with disabilities are asked is, ‘What can I do to help?’ Perhaps the first thing someone can do is to understand that a person with a disability is the same person they were before experiencing their form of disability. It is important not to treat them differently simply because they have a form of disability. Do not expect them to be any weaker or stronger, and do not be surprised if they have found new qualities within themselves that have not surfaced before.
The experience of a form of disability forces the issue of, ‘finding one’s self.’ Some people take pride in the things they learn about themselves through the experience of a form of disability. They appreciate the way disability helps to define their values.
A number of psychological adjustments have little to do with the disability a person experiences; they are issues everyone does. As an example, a person might be frustrated because they are having a hard time finding someone to love and believe it is their form of disability that is the cause of the loneliness they feel. The issue; however, is a part of many people’s lives, whether they experience a form of disability or not. It is important for people with disabilities to avoid making disability a scapegoat for issues that might very well have appeared in their lives anyway.
For the majority of people with disabilities, disability does not define who they are; it is something they deal with when it becomes necessary to do so. One person with a disability noted that the entire human race is essentially disabled because we are unable to live together in peace, something that has always been so, and will continue to be so in the future. The question then becomes, ‘What is normal?’
Excerpt from: Disabled World; Psychological and Social Aspects of Disability
Painting by Tom Kelly